March 31, 2013

Sunday Currently : 13

You guys. It's official. Spring is here! I've been up in New York the past few days with my family, taking advantage of a couple of days off for Easter. I was worried that I would be in for a very cold weekend up in the North, but as it turned out, we've had beautifully warm, sunny days! I had a nice afternoon walking around in Brooklyn, and this weekend my mom and I did some Very Serious Shopping that involved mint skinnies, flirty Kate Spade dresses, and coral blouses. Success! On top of it all, I got a fresh new hair-cut, and I'm feeling ready to conquer spring. Here I come, world!

I also have some exciting news that has had me bouncing off the walls for the past couple of weeks... the hubs and I are moving.... to a house!! Our lovely one-bedroom apartment has been home for over three years, but our rent just went up and has become too much to keep up with. In a stroke of luck, our friend has a house in DC that he rents out, and we are the happy new tenants. It's a two-bedroom, has a front and back yard, and it's way less expensive than our apartment. I'm over the moon! I'm excited to plant a garden and learn all of the ins and outs of house-living, but it also means that this week will be hectic as we pack everything up and make the big move next weekend. I'm excited to share my discoveries on this blog and to attempt some big projects as we make this house our home. 

Now, without further ado... the Sunday Currently!

reading :  Beautiful Chaos. I followed through on my goal to finish A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and even finished Beautiful Darkness. My verdict: I didn't really love Portrait of the Artist, but I did like Beautiful Darkness. I thought it was suspenseful, and it kept me wondering what was going to happen to Lena. I have a few theories about where things go in Beautiful Chaos, but I'm trying to savor it so that I have reading material for my bus ride tomorrow! Oooh, I love reading!

writing :  Lots of gardening ideas for the new house. My latest idea: Massive sunflower garden along our back fence so that we don't have to look at our neighbor's trashcans. I'd also like some privacy, so I've been generating ideas for how to accomplish all of this without too much effort.

listening :  To my parents' pet bird chirping and conversing with the birds outside. 

thinking :  About decoration ideas. Paint colors, furniture fantasies, and garden plans are racing through my mind. First, though, I should probably focus on setting aside time this week to pack up our apartment...

smelling :  The beautiful hyacinth in the living room. My mom already had some out in a vase, and my grandmother brought some more over when she came for dinner on Friday, so now this house just smells amazing. Note to self: Get some hyacinth for the new house. 

wishing :  For some magical money to appear so that my furniture fantasies can become furniture realities. In the meantime, wine crate furniture will have to do. :)

hoping :  That I don't have a cold. I'm very congested today and feel a bit achey, and I'm not sure if Long Island has kicked up some dormant allergies or if my immune system is reminding me that I cannot escape the wrath of the common cold. Fingers crossed for the former.

wearing : Blue Winnies, a striped top, and a cardigan for Easter brunch. 

loving :  The hubs for being so kind and resourceful this weekend as he painted our new living room and scored some beautiful antique chairs for our new kitchen. Also loving family in general, as this trip has reminded me how fortunate I am to have grown up in a family with so much love. :) 

wanting :  To have all the cats in my life participate in one big cuddle-fest! Is that weird? I don't care. I've been playing with my parents' two cats and my sister's cat, and I love them all! Animals are so wonderful, and something as simple as a gentle stroke on the head can generate so much affection from them. They make life a bit better. 

needing :  Good health. This is generally a good thing to have, but this week in particular has so much packed into it, and I'd like to be at my full strength to get through it all. Packing and moving across town with a cold? That doesn't sound so great. Health, please!

feeling :  A bit tired and congested. I think that a post-brunch nap is in the cards for me. Claritin, now would be a good time to kick in. 

clicking : On this bag by Kelly Moore. My mom and I were debating yesterday whether to get a fun, floral Kate Spade bag that could double as a camera bag, but we ultimately decided to let it go. This Kelly Moore bag is bright and cute and is an actual camera bag, and I think I might splurge and get it for upcoming travel adventures. Any other cute bag recommendations?

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March 29, 2013

Friday's Letters

Today I'm joining a new link-up! If there are other fun ones that people enjoy doing, let me know. I really like these, and it's nice to explore new blogs and meet new people by doing them. Here we go!

Dear NYC, Even when you're rainy, I love you. I love your scent, I love your noise, and I love your sense of being home. Thank you for being you. Dear Hair Stylist, I'm trusting you with my hair this morning. I need a new haircut, so please work some magic. At the very least, don't make me bald. Dear Kitty Cats, I love visiting you. You are so playful, and I love the way that Lily jumped up on my stomach last night, walked in a circle, and flopped down to take a nap. You are so precious! Dear J. Crew Customer Service You rock for agreeing to cover the cost of getting my winter coat lining fixed after it started ripping like crazy. I appreciate good business practices like that, and it's nice to know that decency exists. Dear Hubs, Please purchase the right kind of paint for our walls. And please please please do a good job painting! I am terribly anxious about not being able to participate in the painting extravaganza and want everything to go well. I know you are capable, and I trust. But I'm still nervous. :) Dear Universe, You made this week rather stressful and terrible at times, but I'm starting to feel back on track. Thanks for bringing back feelings of peace and calm into my life.


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March 27, 2013

100 Best Novels: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

James Joyce, it's time to talk. You were always the cute boy in school, the one who was popular and good-looking, the one who I admired from afar. Everyone else thought so, too. We had never actually spoken to each other, but I thought for sure I would swoon once we did. I thought for sure you would sweep me off my feet.

Then we actually met.

James Joyce, once you started speaking to me, the fantasy quickly crumbled away. I'm sad to say that I no longer have a crush on you.

Ugh, don't you hate it when that happens? James Joyce is considered one of the best writers of all time, and his books make several appearances on the 100 Best Novels list. I had always wanted to read one of his books. I assumed that I would love anything of his that I picked up. Go Ireland! Go people of Ireland!

It just didn't work out that way. I struggled to get through A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. I appreciated its structure and the way that the protagonist, Stephen Dedalus gradually becomes his own person throughout the novel. Particular passages I even quite enjoyed. Overall, though, I never once felt immersed in the story, and I found myself reading it with a decidedly begrudging attitude. That's not how I like to read, particularly during a project like this where I want to get back into the joy of reading great literature, but so it goes. It was bound to happen eventually, and it just so happens that it was with James Joyce.

Since I try to find the silver lining whenever possible, I'm going to skip a recap of what I didn't like and share instead on a few excerpts that stuck out to me and that made parts of the novel a worthy read. 

His heart trembled; his breath came faster and a wild spirit passed over his limbs as though he were soaring sunward. His heart trembled in ecstasy of fear and his soul was in flight. His soul was soaring in an air beyond the world and the body he knew was purified in a breath and delivered of incertitude and made radiant and commingled with the element of the spirit. (p. 183)

The artist, like the God of the creation, remains within or behind or beyond or above his handiwork, invisible, refined out of existence, indifferent, paring his fingernails. (p. 233)

Welcome, O life! I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race. (p. 275)

If I take a step back from the particulars of the novel, I do like the overall notion of an artist's path to self-discovery. Stephen goes through many transformations, being shaped by so many forces throughout his life before he decides to leave Dublin and his family in a sort of self-imposed exile and reclaim (or perhaps discover) his own voice. The entire novel is peppered in quotations and allusions to other thinkers, and it's interesting to think of how Stephen frames his experience through the worI love that the narrative structure changes from third-person to first-person to reflect this shift. The composition of this novel is pretty neat in that sense. I also like the many allusions to the myth of Icarus and Daedalus and how ultimately, this is drawn upon again in the final words of the novel to suggest that Stephen

Have others suffered through or perhaps even enjoyed James Joyce? What do you do when you come across a book that disappoints?

100 Best Novels

1. "Ulysses," James Joyce
2. "The Great Gatsby," F. Scott Fitzgerald
3. "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man," James Joyce
4. "Lolita," Vladimir Nabokov
5. "Brave New World," Aldous Huxley
6. "The Sound and the Fury," William Faulkner
7. "Catch-22," Joseph Heller
8. "Darkness at Noon," Arthur Koestler
9. "Sons and Lovers," D. H. Lawrence
10. "The Grapes of Wrath," John Steinbeck
11. "Under the Volcano," Malcolm Lowry
12. "The Way of All Flesh," Samuel Butler
13. "1984," George Orwell
14. "I, Claudius," Robert Graves
15. "To the Lighthouse," Virginia Woolf
16. "An American Tragedy," Theodore Dreiser
17. "The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter," Carson McCullers
18. "Slaughterhouse Five," Kurt Vonnegut
19. "Invisible Man," Ralph Ellison
20. "Native Son," Richard Wright
21. "Henderson the Rain King," Saul Bellow
22. "Appointment in Samarra," John O' Hara
23. "U.S.A." (trilogy), John Dos Passos
24. "Winesburg, Ohio," Sherwood Anderson
25. "A Passage to India," E. M. Forster
26. "The Wings of the Dove," Henry James
27. "The Ambassadors," Henry James
29. "The Studs Lonigan Trilogy," James T. Farrell
30. "The Good Soldier," Ford Madox Ford
31. "Animal Farm," George Orwell
32. "The Golden Bowl," Henry James
33. "Sister Carrie," Theodore Dreiser
34. "A Handful of Dust," Evelyn Waugh
35. "As I Lay Dying," William Faulkner
36. "All the King's Men," Robert Penn Warren
37. "The Bridge of San Luis Rey," Thornton Wilder
38. "Howards End," E. M. Forster
39. "Go Tell It on the Mountain," James Baldwin
40. "The Heart of the Matter," Graham Greene
41. "Lord of the Flies," William Golding
42. "Deliverance," James Dickey
43. "A Dance to the Music of Time" (series), Anthony Powell
44. "Point Counter Point," Aldous Huxley
45. "The Sun Also Rises," Ernest Hemingway
46. "The Secret Agent," Joseph Conrad
47. "Nostromo," Joseph Conrad
48. "The Rainbow," D. H. Lawrence
49. "Women in Love," D. H. Lawrence
50. "Tropic of Cancer," Henry Miller
51. "The Naked and the Dead," Norman Mailer
52. "Portnoy's Complaint," Philip Roth
53. "Pale Fire," Vladimir Nabokov
54. "Light in August," William Faulkner
55. "On the Road," Jack Kerouac
56. "The Maltese Falcon," Dashiell Hammett
57. "Parade's End," Ford Madox Ford
58. "The Age of Innocence," Edith Wharton
59. "Zuleika Dobson," Max Beerbohm
60. "The Moviegoer," Walker Percy
61. "Death Comes to the Archbishop," Willa Cather
62. "From Here to Eternity," James Jones
63. "The Wapshot Chronicles," John Cheever
64. "The Catcher in the Rye," J. D. Salinger
65. "A Clockwork Orange," Anthony Burgess
66. "Of Human Bondage," W. Somerset Maugham
67. "Heart of Darkness," Joseph Conrad
68. "Main Street," Sinclair Lewis
69. "The House of Mirth," Edith Wharton
70. "The Alexandria Quartet," Lawrence Durrell
71. "A High Wind in Jamaica," Richard Hughes
72. "A House for Ms. Biswas," V. S. Naipaul
73. "The Day of the Locust," Nathaniel West
75. "Scoop," Evelyn Waugh
76. "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie," Muriel Spark
77. "Finnegans Wake," James Joyce
78. "Kim," Rudyard Kipling
79. "A Room With a View," E. M. Forster
80. "Brideshead Revisited," Evelyn Waugh
81. "The Adventures of Augie March," Saul Bellow
82. "Angle of Repose," Wallace Stegner
83. "A Bend in the River," V. S. Naipaul
84. "The Death of the Heart," Elizabeth Bowen
85. "Lord Jim," Joseph Conrad
86. "Ragtime," E. L. Doctorow
87. "The Old Wives' Tale," Arnold Bennett
88. "The Call of the Wild," Jack London
89. "Loving," Henry Green
90. "Midnight's Children," Salman Rushdie
91. "Tobacco Road," Erskine Caldwell
92. "Ironweed," William Kennedy
93. "The Magus," John Fowles
94. "Wide Sargasso Sea," Jean Rhys
95. "Under the Net," Iris Murdoch
96. "Sophie's Choice," William Styron
97. "The Sheltering Sky," Paul Bowles
98. "The Postman Always Rings Twice," James M. Cain
99. "The Ginger Man," J. P. Donleavy
100. "The Magnificent Ambersons," Booth Tarkington

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March 25, 2013

Snowy Tree Branches

Snow! Snow! Snow!

I was thrilled to wake up this morning to actual snow on the ground and big fat flakes falling from the sky. I was less impressed when DC schools failed to close or have a delayed opening (seriously, we've had classes completely canceled for snow predictions that never actually showed up, yet we can't even get a delay when the snow actually is here??), as I really wanted to spend the morning reading in bed. However, I quickly got over my crankiness (well, most of it) as I walked through the snowy paths to my destination and admired how beautiful everything looked blanketed in that glorious white snow.

No other photos today, just these happy snow-covered tree branches, but this was a good reminder to find the positive, even when my hopes for a snow day from school were dashed. 

Happy snowy Monday!

March 24, 2013

Sunday Currently : 12

Woo hoo, it's Sunday! This weekend has been so busy, and today is no exception. Normally, I prefer my Sundays to be quiet and lazy, but today the hubs and I will be busy social butterflies as we go to a birthday brunch this afternoon for one of our friends and then off to a dinner this evening with another friend. Mmm, food.

Last weekend I wrote about not doing many fun things, and this weekend was very different, as there was a lot of time spent with friends. I was especially looking forward to going to my first DC United game of the season on Saturday! Although we lost 2-1 to the Columbus Crew, it was fun to back in the stadium and getting caught up in the raucous fun of cheering on our team (and perhaps hurling a few insults at Columbus while we were at it).

I might be a little tired this morning, but I'm ready for more time with friends! Sunday, let's do this. It's game time.

reading : The end of A Portrait of the Artist of a Young Man. I'm also getting into the last bit of Beautiful Darkness, and I hope to start on the next book this week. I really need to read faster!

writing :  Sadly, not too much! Mainly organization lists. I need to brainstorm some posts to schedule and have a couple started in my head that need to be translated into actual words on my computer. 

listening :  To TV in the background. Does anyone remember the show Popular on the WB? I love that era of TV shows on that network and have been re-watching this one. It's so goofy and satirical, and I forgot how much I enjoyed it when it was on the air. And those old WB promos were so epic! I'm having some major nostalgia now. 

thinking : About what to order for brunch! My friend's birthday was last week, and we're having celebratory brunch today in Columbia Heights. Eggs or French toast?

smelling :  Lavender dryer sheets. Mmmm. 

wishing :  For the weekend already! Last weekend I thought I didn't do enough fun things, and this weekend was a bit of a fun-times overload. It's been enjoyable, but I am definitely feeling the need for some rejuvenation and balance next weekend. 

hoping :  For snow. I know it's probably futile, but every time I hear there's a chance of snow in DC, I get my hopes up. Sigh. 

wearing :   Minnies, colorful striped long-sleeve tee, and a new favorite necklace. I am ready to get my brunch on!

loving :  Fun! With some of my friends leaving the area next year, I'm glad that we're spending time together. When it gets a bit warmer out, I know that we'll have lots of other fun things to do, and I'm excited for what the future will bring. 

wanting :  New furniture. The hubs and I have accumulated lots of random pieces of furniture for our apartment, mainly from Target and Ikea, but lately I've been thinking about what kind of styles we actually like. I've started to look at various pieces that catch my eye, and I think I've started to figure out what I want. Now I just want to buy them all! :)

needing :  To go through clothes to donate and get some major cleaning done. Maybe it's because spring is in the air, but I want to get some spring cleaning projects done over the next couple of weeks. 

feeling : Excited for fun things ahead! So far on the agenda are a trip to NYC, more DC United games, brunches, concerts, and lots of other adventures. Ooohhh, I can't wait to share some of these with you guys! :)

clicking :  On old WB promos. I can't help it, writing about Popular made me jump over to YouTube to relive my adolescence! This one and this one are my favorites.

What are your Sunday plans?

Join the fun at Lauren's Sunday Currently link-up!

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